Category Archives: Random and Vague

Just 30 minutes left for sexual harassment…

30 minutes left on the ‘blogging to fight sexual harassment’ day deadline…

At the beginning of this month, I decided to finally pick up on the idea of looking into sexual harassment in Egypt through my work at almasryalyoum.com/en. I wanted to figure out what was going on with sexual harassment – what was the root, where did the disrespect come from and what was the anger and viciousness behind the vulgarity and aggression. And as the weeks continue, we explore it more – with articles like The Sexual Harassment File: Bringing up the obvious?and The Sexual Harassment File: Can’t you girls take a little flirting?, I tried to poke a little at what was going on behind the rampant disrespect.

Since then we’ve looked into some of the upbringing issues with Ali Abdel Mohsen’s Sexual harassment starts at home and have talked about the cultural background surrounding this kind of behavior in Steven Viney’s Can culture be blamed? We plan to continue this week with talking to some of the men about what they hope to gain from harassing women and the legal framework for bringing in a harasser.

And as soon as I started seeing the enthusiasm in the office about tackling the issue and the enthusiasm in the responses I was getting about the series, I thought I had started getting things under control. I thought that I would know exactly what to do when the next harasser reared his ugly head to spew venomous garbage at me in the middle of a Cairo street. I walked a walk that wasn’t angry but ready for discovery and confrontation. I looked potential harassers in the eye rather than looking markedly ahead of me and pretending to be a horse in traffic, protected merely by peripheral vision blinders. Days passed – on one I was out photographing in the streets of Cairo for an upcoming exhibition and I used the long sturdy lens of my camera as a weapon against the “welcome to egypt” that’s just dripping with “come do me, baby”, snapping shots of harassers and turning ego-maniacal and invasive stares into discomfort.

Most of the time I spent cooped up in my car, blasting music loud enough to distract me from any of the creepy stares from the younger generation and the disgusted “let me cleanse my eyes of your prostitute-like presence” from the older and more “religious” set.

You know, in all my writing, I know I’m being harassed on a daily basis but it all merges into one constant feeling of panic with only the very extreme cases standing out. I think women’s ability to withstand and forget the pain of childbirth applies with their ability to withstand and forget the pain of the daily psychological sanding they take from looks, comments, gestures in the streets of Cairo. Because men who deny the existence of harassment have to understand that the problem goes beyond an actual grab in the street… a man standing at a kiosk will size you up and smirk at what he can imagine himself doing with you and while that can neither be quantified nor sued for or tried against, it is can be the most heart wrenching and respect destroying moment of your day. Not that that one situation is enough to break a woman, that that one situation is yet another reminder of how women are regarded and treated on the street. ONE MORE REMINDER OF WHAT YOU ARE WORTH.

So, this afternoon, I’m driving to the gym. I’m in my car, I’m in Maadi, I’m in a bit of a rush. A motorcycle with three guys on it buzz around me like a bee and the guy on the back turns to me with a wolf like hunger in his eyes and puts his fingers together and kisses them and pulls them way. He bites his lower lip “seductively” as they buzz around for another look in the car. I resist the urge to hit the motorcycle with my car but I won’t. As they buzz away, he laughs. And once again I’ve lost. I’m furious and traumatized and angry and disgusted and fuming and miserable. I want them to get trampled by an army of stampeding women. I want them to get slapped by their mothers when they get home for such lewd behavior. I want to call for sentences of vasectomies for sexual harassers, some sort of guarantee that they won’t have some poor little toddler looking up to them for guidance and learning that women are stupid, useless pieces of trash that can just as easily be raped as they can be disregarded. 

I want flyers plastered on every street in Cairo – a decree –

WOMEN WILL HENCEFORTH BE RESPECTED. WOMEN ARE HUMAN BEINGS. WOMEN WILL NOT BE GROPED, TOUCHED OR APPROACHED WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT. WOMEN WILL NOT BE LOOKED AT RUDELY AND WILL NOT BE TREATED WITH CONTEMPT FOR NO OTHER REASON THAN THEIR SEX.

And in the end, women should not thank you. Women should not feel lucky to be with a guy who doesn’t push them around or touch them without their consent. Women should not thank people for allowing them to run for parliament or president or anything because it’s not the ‘men’s’ decision. It is our right as human beings to be respected. If they will not give it to us, we will have to take it ourselves.

 

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Cooking for the revolution

Well… I’m not sure if it’s a good excuse – but I have been negligent in my blogging efforts due to a little teeny tiny revolution in Egypt that seems to have shaken if not only the Middle East but also the world! (Or so we would like to believe here :D) The few days we were trapped in our homes due to 3pm curfews and a fear for our selves and our loved ones were very surreal days. The TV was on 24 hours a day with numerous updates, shots of Tahrir Square filled with a constantly moving swarm of people, insane programming on local TV (like national songs and talk shows about the lack of pizza delivery in the market due to the ‘thugs’ in Tahrir) and 2am speeches by delusional dictators.

We were a small group gathered together during those days – we would separate for a few hours midday – to feed cats or pick up groceries or take a trip through the army tank ridden streets – and then regroup in the early evening for dinner and to settle in for another night of anticipation.

Needless to say – dinner meant cooking and when the fabulous Fatma (the cook who works with my parents) couldn’t pop by to make breaded chicken by the kilo for our little camp, I cooked!

We had pasta with tomato basil cream sauce one night and threw together beef with broccoli another night. We had tikka masala chicken at one point and munched on crackers and cheese when none of the random ingredients available in the supermarket seemed throw-together-able.  We sipped wine and beer on the balcony and when things got really rough, threw bourbon and scotch in a glass for a tougher punch.

In any case, as the millions of people and pieces of the revolution start to regather and we rebuild our beautiful country, there’s always a need for delicious food!

So let the cooking begin!

xx Nina

PS – if this is any tribute… let this little post be dedicated to Rahmy, Clare, Yasmine and Lily – to Lara and Sophie the alarm clock and of course to Sennoo the chopper (with a samurai sword)

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YAY!

Successful 😀 – After about 5 hours in the kitchen… I managed to serve the menu as planned – baked the aubergine for the moussaka this time instead of frying it and it was a much less greasy result (but still yummy :D). I also managed to make TIRAMISU! I was shocked – very worried about it because whipping the cream by hand was impossible and things were a little runny but time in the fridge pulled it together and to my very very happy surprise, it was accepted by even the bluntest of critics (yes, Sarah, I love you.) Next time I will be prepared with the mixer I’ve been promised by my mom (the one we used to make snickerdoodles and bonny butter cakes with when I was little) and I will actually have whipped cream instead of ‘slightly-thicker-than-when-I-poured-it-out-of-the-carton’ whipping cream. Recipes for moussaka and tiramisu to come… once I post the meat pie recipe (with sweet potato fries).

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Cooking dinner for 12!

Well – it’s finally time – I haven’t hosted a large dinner since my second daughter was born and tonight some of my closest and dearest friends are coming over for dinner….

On the menu:

The Mushroom Artichoke Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Moussaka – (recipe and pics will be up soon)

Shrimp and Veggie Fried Noodles – made easier by the wonderful selection of frozen stir fry veggies sold by Gourmet (Dragon Stir Fry Mix)

Sweet Potato Fries

Cinnamon and Walnut Rice

And the dessert surprise (first time… will report how successful it is…)

TIRAMISU!

hehe – must go home and start cooking

xx

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I will post the recipe.

Yes – this is the point of the blog in the first place… but things are a little busy these days (to say the least) so I’ll post it this evening… in the mean time, here is some fabulous sushi by my friend Omnia who has a catering business called Chez Monz.

This roll is fabulous...

She genuinely tried to teach me how to make the roll but… well – I’m sure the first attempt at sushi will make for an interesting post!

xx

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Oh.

No... I didn't make these... but I did photograph them!

I am also a photographer – so there will be pictures. Of food.

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Just a beginning….

I’ve always been a pretty self-righteous girl. It’s never been ok with me to be the automatic ‘cook’ or the possible housewife. In fact, like my 3-year old is now, I always rejected whatever was expected of me. At least by society. And so I avoided the kitchen. AVOIDED. The kitchen, to me, was a place from which to steal a spoon of cookie dough if my mom was distracted by a phone call. And then I had my own kitchen – and I automatically gave it up to whatever housekeeper or nanny came through my house. And about a year ago, everything changed. I’m not sure if it was a conscious decision or not but suddenly, in January of 2009, I was cooking.

I spent the last year looking up recipes on websites and tweaking them to my liking (or to my level of energy). I cooked through my pregnancy (April-December) – relentlessly. And then tried to keep cooking on and off through my first two months of chaos with the new baby and work.

And finally, tonight, for the FIRST TIME – I made up a dish and it turned out SUPER YUMMY.

So I decided it was time to start a blog.

(The logic of the sequence may only be obvious to me.)

xx

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